United Nations (UN) Middle East envoy Robert Serry said yesterday that Israel had agreed to a mechanism which would allow for materials to be brought into the Gaza Strip in order for reconstruction to begin in the wake of Operation Protective Edge.
Crucially, Serry said that the agreement would see the Palestinian Authority (PA) take the lead in reconstruction efforts, by-passing Hamas. Serry commented that the arrangement would “enable work at the scale required in the strip, involving the private sector in Gaza and giving a lead role to the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction effort.”
50 days of fighting during Operation Protective Edge came to an end on 26 August after Egypt brokered an open-ended truce between Israel and Hamas which remains in place. However, Hamas has so far been unable to deliver on its demands, including that borders be opened for the free flow of goods.
Serry indicated that the agreement over goods entering Gaza had been designed to allay Israel’s security concerns, saying it would “provide security assurances through UN monitoring that these materials will not be diverted from their entirely civilian purpose.” During Operation Protective Edge, it became apparent to Israeli forces that huge amounts of cement intended for civilian building had been used to construct Hamas command bunkers and tunnels to launch attacks against Israel.
According to Haaretz, the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli body responsible for coordination with Palestinian authorities confirmed the agreement. In a statement, COGAT said, “The mechanism will enable the rehabilitation of the Strip while preserving security interests.”
Serry said that the agreement “must get up and running without delay.” He added, “The crisis in Gaza is far from over and the window of opportunity to address critical needs and stabilize the situation is short.” Egypt is set to host an international donor conference on 12 October to raise funds for Gaza’s reconstruction.